10 Things That Make Me Cry Now I'm A Dad

14/08/2014 16:55 | Updated 22 May 2015

Dad and child

I used to be the kind of man who reserved crying for funerals and sporting disappointments involving world cups and penalties. The important stuff. But having a child has unplugged my emotional wells and left me dabbing an old hanky to the corner of my eye with embarrassing regularity.

Here are 10 things I would previously have ignored, or worse derided, that now set my proud, incontinent, fatherly tear ducts running wild.

1. Terrible art

I once had a job at a magazine that involved receiving entries to children's drawing competitions. They were all varying degrees of rubbish and I, obviously, laughed at them. I didn't realise how much intense effort a four-year-old puts into recreating scenes such as 'Dora The Explorer climbs Number Mountain' and 'Princess Aurora gets married surrounded by squirrels'.

Now I'm ashamed of my former self's cold-hearted scorn. These days when my daughter rushes home clutching a handful of pictures of me – which bear no likeness to me or, in fact, a human being that hasn't been in a horrific accident – I greet them with an impressed gasp and blink away the tears.

2. Pronouncements of love

Show me somebody gushing romantically and in no time at all I'll show you a pile of vomit at my feet. But if a small child, especially mine, for no particular reason expresses her love for someone, especially me, I'll show you a man biting his bottom lip and attempting to hold it together.

3. Reality TV

You would think we'd be wise to the X Factor audition backstory by now: "I've just recovered from a terminal disease, walked 58 miles to be here and was brought up by chimps after my parents left me in the ape enclosure at the local zoo." Yeah, whatever, give it a rest and get on with Titanium.

But once you become a parent, damn it, you are much more susceptible to these tales of childhood woe. You know you're being taken for an emotional ride but just can't get off: the music stops, the judges rise to their feet; Louis Walsh can barely stand he's in such a mess; Gary Barlow says it's the best audition since 1867; Sharon Osbourne tells the contestant their life will never be the same again, at least not until next week, and Nicole Scherzinger pouts "jamaze". You meanwhile are floating in a pool of salty water of your own making.

4. Baby animals on Youtube

Bear cubs, kittens, puppies, they're all cut from the same cute cloth as babies.


They're basically small children with fur: adorable, a bit dim and in possession of a very limited sense of self-preservation.


So when I watch clips of the little blighters snuggling up to each other or getting into trouble only to be saved at the last minute by a huge parental paw, it's like a swarm of flies has just set up home in my eyes.

5. The news

We are regularly told by people who know about such things that images of suffering are so prevalent society has become immune to them, flippantly flicking away from the agonies of others as if they are part of a particularly violent episode of Neighbours rather than actual reality. And I'll admit, pre-parenthood I gave up engaging with scenes of carnage.

Now I am transfixed, unable to glaze over and dispassionately watch a child wailing in a refugee camp or sleeping on the street inches from roaring traffic. I tortuously attempt to find reason, wonder how this could be allowed to happen and assess whether my £2 monthly donation to Oxfam is enough to make it stop. After all, but for a few twists of fate that could be my child.

6. Cartoons

Those Care Bears have so much love to give it just breaks my heart... This situation is clearly spiralling out of control when the heroic actions of a cartoon animal with a magic tummy provoke weeping.

7. Upsetting daydreams

Disturbingly sombre thoughts regularly creep into my brain. I might be working at my desk or driving and suddenly I'm plunged into a terrible, dark daydream revolving around a ridiculously unlikely scenario. If, for example, I've recently been to a beach it may involve a tsunami sweeping my family off in a watery tumult or a freak gust of wind sending the buggy over a cliff top.

I can't shake the thought until I've played it out in full, pushing me to the brink of a temporary emotional breakdown.


In the old days the most harrowing mental image I could conjure up involved my parents cuddling naked.


8. Nursery drop-off

As other children toddle into pre-school without a flicker of emotion, my daughter clings to my clothes as if I'm trying to leave her at a Victorian orphanage run by Miss Thwackalot.

There is an entire building full of stuff she loves playing with waiting for her, but she often has to be dragged in, arms outstretched, screaming, "DADDY. DON'T. LEAVE. ME!" On such days I shuffle away with a crushing sense that I've let her down terribly. Naturally when it's pick up time she doesn't want to come home.

9. Sleeping children

It's not unusual to spend time staring at your sleeping child, pondering how on earth you managed to create this little dollop of pyjama-clad perfection and quietly sobbing. It's also an upsetting reminder of how annoying he is when he's awake.

Obviously once he hits his 20s you should probably begin to curb this habit.

10. Pine cones

If your husband or wife gets you a pine cone this Christmas you'll feel a little short changed. But when your child has been for a walk, spotted one, earnestly thought "I know who'll love that," and carefully carried it home in her pocket just for you, it's overwhelming.

What makes you emotional since you've had children?


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